Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Notional Becomes Notation

Once upon a time, children, our Tom Coates had a vision: a vision less-known than that which led to the founding of The Bomb, or of the Barbelith Underground, but no less prophetic for being more obscure.

Tom’s vision was to be called Slutcore: and lo, it would be a website, built around a gallery of photographs of himself and some friends poncing about in a distinct music-magazine-photograph kind of way. And lo, it would be a website for a fictional band, the eponymous Slutcore, who would be a band in all senses except that they didn’t actually write songs, play music, record, or perform.

It was too much for me to get my poor head around at first, but once I “got it” it seemed to me to be pure genius. Sadly, nothing much ever came of it.

But it seems the zeitgeist has caught up. On the one hand there’s Gorillaz—a remarkable conceptual product of meatspace musicians doing, in essence, voice-work for a "band" of literal cartoons (but Damon Albarn et al are no more Gorillaz than, say, Nancy Cartwright is Bart Simpson: Bart has a life and a cultural presence that goes far beyond the parameters of Ms. Cartwright’s sterling performance), and artists who give the band an image—and image is literally everything, for Gorillaz. Then there’s young Ben Haggar’s project, an assemblage of conceptual bands with no music and no meatspace presence, whose members and music exist only in the fevered words of press releases.

Now I hear of Chicks On Speed, a project whose parameters originally fell the closest to the Slutcore paradigm. The initial purity of the concept was daffy genius. But Chicks On Speed have now taken the additional steps of actually recording some music, and of touring to promote it. Now Chicks On Speed are just another band, one of thousands.

Fucking sell-outs.

Still, I think The Archies were on to something.

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